I went to see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and it put me in the mood to reread "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen, which I did, and also thoroughly enjoyed :)
I picked up Marina Fiorato's "Beatrice and Benedick" because of the cover (spoiler alert: sometimes I *do* choose books by their cover. Shhh, don't tell anyone). I read that it was about Shakespeare's sparring lovers from the play "Much Ado About Nothing", which I've read and enjoyed, so I was looking forward to this one. It was quite good, I really liked it. Beatrice and Benedick have wonderful repartee, much like Darcy and Elizabeth in "P&P", and reading the two back to back was very fun. She did a beautiful job with the characters and the setting, it just dragged in the middle when Beatrice and Benedick were separated.
I do so enjoy these Rat Pack mysteries by Robert J. Randisi. The latest one has Eddie G. worried about an open contract on his life: it's bringing all sorts of amateur hit men out of the woodwork, taking shots at him. So when Frank asks Eddie if he could help out his friend Judy Garland, Eddie takes advantage of the timing to get out of Las Vegas. He and Jerry head to L.A. and meet with Judy, who's afraid someone is stalking her. Between the people trying to kill Eddie and the people trying to kill Judy, it's kind of amazing Eddie and Jerry make it as relatively unscathed as they do. It was a quick, fun read.
The opposite of quick and fun was Chris Bohjalian's latest, "Guest Room". Richard, trying to be a nice big brother, allows his brother Phillip's bachelor party to take place in his home. He expected strippers, but what he didn't expect was for the girls to kill the bodyguards who came with them and take off in their car. Stunned, Richard soon learns the girls were Russian sex slaves, kidnapped and brought to America against their will. His wife and job aren't terribly happy with the events that took place that night in the family home. The book cuts between Richard and Alexandra, one of the girls who escaped. She tells her heartbreaking story of how she was taken from her grandmother and held against her will. It was good, just very sad.
The parade of Super Bowl tribute books continues! Harvey Frommer's "When It Was Just a Game" looks back at the humble beginnings of the Super Bowl, which was not of course even called the Super Bowl back then. There were lots of interviews with players from both sides, people who attended the game, relatives of the head coaches (who have both passed away) and others. It was a fun read and it was nice that the game didn't end up being the big blowout that all the experts were predicting.
I've read some of the stories collected in Truman Capote's "The Complete Stories of Truman Capote", but not all of them. Most of them were pretty good. I was surprised at the repetition, how several of them featured a young boy with an older companion and a little dog. Of course a lot of them were very autobiographical. They were pretty good.
In the early 1960s, Detroit seemed poised on the brink of being a world famous city for all the right reasons. They were making a bid for the 1968 Olympics, and actually looked like they had a good shot; the Big 3 automakers were making profits in the billions, Motown was churning out the hits. What went so wrong to turn this prosperous, thriving city into the bankrupt mess it is today? Maraniss doesn't have all the answers, but he does know there were signs of Detroit's eventual hardships in the horizon even back in those prosperous, happy days. It was an interesting story.
Mark Z. Danielewski's story continues in "The Familiar Vol. 2". There's so much going on I can't even begin to sum it up in a concise way, honestly, *I* don't even know if I'm understanding it, but it's interesting, so I keep reading it :)
"Pretty Ugly" by Kirker Butler was a hilarious dark humor novel about the worst people ever. Miranda Miller is the ultimate pageant mom, forcing daughter Bailey to compete in pageants even though Bailey is sick of them. Bailey secretly eats candy so she'll gain weight and her mom won't make her compete any longer. Her husband, Ray, is a nurse who recently found out he got his barely 18 year old girlfriend pregnant. Miranda's mom, Joan, talks to Jesus, who tells her to kill people. All sorts of awful things happen to them, and I was thrilled because they deserved it.
I'm a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe, so I was excited to see a book of new works by authors paying tribute to him in their unique ways. Unfortunately this collection just did not live up. Some of the stories were all right, but none were great and most were just mediocre. A few were flat out terrible. It's a shame, Poe left behind some wonderful inspiration to take advantage of.
Naomi Ragen's "Devil in Jerusalem" was a hard book to read. It was very good, but very graphically details horrific accounts of child abuse. Daniella is a young, idealist, religious Jewish girl growing up in a wealthy family when she meets Shlomie at a summer camp. They get married and move to Israel to begin their dream life of raising a pious Jewish family in the Holy Land. Shlomie becomes a Talmudic scholar and Daniella has seven children in ten years time. They have their fair share of misfortune but also good times, until Shlomie gets involved with an evil cult leader named Shem Tov, whose followers call him the Messiah. Before Daniella realizes what's happened her family is torn apart and she's divorced from Shlomie, married to Shem Tov, and her children are being abused. It was heartbreakingly sad and melodramatic, but not bad.
I have the worst habit of buying books that I never read because I have too many library books checked out. Since the library books have a due date, I feel like they're more pressing. So I end up never getting to the books I love enough to actually buy, which is completely backwards. New Year's Resolution! Same as every year: read more of the books I own. So I started with Stephen King's latest collection of short stories, published last October. And I tell you, I had the weirdest sense of deja vu reading these stories. With the exception of "Obits", I felt like I had read every single one of them before. Most of them *were* previously published, but in places like Atlantic Magazine, where I never would have seen them (with the exception of "Blockade Billy", which I know I've read before as it was published separately). I don't know if it's because I've read so much of his work that everything's starting to sound the same or if I'm losing my mind (smart money's on the latter). At any rate, they were all pretty good.
"South Toward Home" by Margaret Eby was a fun literary jaunt through the fertile valley of the South. She visited Oxford and saw William Faulkner's house (so did I!!). She visited Flannery O'Connor's house and saw the peacocks (not the original ones Flannery had, obviously those have long since passed on). She had a good time, traveling through the South and exploring the places that made great writers. Something I'd like to do someday, if I ever get the time.
Stephanie Plum's adventures continue in "Tricky Twenty-Two". Stephanie stumbles upon a mad professor's plot to infect fleas with the plague and release them onto society. In the meantime, Morelli has broken up with her and is rethinking his career as a cop. He thinks the reason for his recent illnesses are stress related and he needs to get away from both Stephanie and the job. Stephanie spends a lot of time being rescued by Ranger, which is always fun. It wasn't bad, not particularly memorable, but it's been a while since they were.
"Calvin" by Martine Leavitt was very charming, I enjoyed it. Seventeen year old Calvin was born on the day the last "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strip by Bill Watterson was published. His grandfather bought him a stuffed tiger as a baby, and Calvin named him Hobbes. Hobbes was his constant friend until he got washed to death on accident one day. Now Hobbes is back in the form of a delusion, Calvin has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and he knows if he can just convince Watterson to write one more Calvin comic where he's seventeen and just fine without Hobbes, it will cure him. Calvin sets out on a mid-winter trek across frozen Lake Erie in an attempt to contact Watterson. His best friend, Susie, insists on going with him to keep an eye on him. It was very touching.
And finally, "The Consultant" by Bentley Little. I love Bentley Little, you always know what to expect. It occurred to me, reading this one, that the reason they're so creepy is that his stories are usually about loss of control over one's life. In this one, CompWare's merger falls through and the company hires a consulting firm in an attempt to stop the stock prices bottoming out. BFG consulting sends a Regus Patoff to CompWare, and immediately you know things aren't right, he's just weird and he's making the employees do weird things. The bosses can't get rid of him, and soon he's making himself a nuisance, showing up at Craig's wife's work and also his son's school. So just quit, right? Find a new job? Employees who quit die under mysterious circumstances. So there's that. It was a fun, quick read.